Promotion rules challenged ahead of CSB meeting

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ISLAMABAD: Ahead of a meeting of the Central Sel­ection Board (CSB) sche­duled to be held on Jan 27 to consider promotion from BS-18 to BS-20, a former bureaucrat has challenged in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) the promotion rules recently introduced by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government.

The IHC after a preliminary hearing of his petition issued notices to the Establishment Division and also sought assistance from the attorney general.

The petitioner, Sikandar Hayat Mekan, challenged the “Civil Servants Promo­tion (BPS-18 to BPS-21) Rules, 2019”, terming them contrary to judgments of superior courts.

On Dec 3, 2019, the PTI government promulgated these rules that allowed 30 discretionary marks to CSB members apparently to lift the position of favorite candidates.

The new rules suggest the CSB members would also be free to consider marks on the basis of intelligence reports as it specifically mentioned that for the promotion to top posts, the CSB can take into account the information received against officers.

These Rules changed the ratio of 100 marks as contrary to the earlier practice, where the CSB had 15 percent marks, the Rules of 2019 doubled the power of the CSB by keeping 30pc marks on the discretion of the board.

Earlier, passing marks for a candidate were 75 for the Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS) and 72 for the rest of cadres. These could be obtained through outstanding performance and successful completion of professional courses at the National Defence University (NDU) and administrative college.

There were 50 marks for Annual Confidential Reports (ACRs) and 35 for professional courses. If a candidate secured 80pc marks there were chances of his promotion even if the CSB did not give him any mark.

However, under the recently notified Rules, an officer despite getting 90pc marks of ACRs and courses could not be promoted without obtaining 70 to 80pc marks from the CSB.

The division of marks is 40 marks for ACRs, 30 for courses and 30 for the CSB.

The Rules set the minimum threshold of 60 marks for promotion in BS-18, 65 for BS-19, 70 for BS-20 and 75 for BS-21.

Mr. Mekan’s petition claimed that “almost all the gazetted officers of the government of Pakistan whose promotions are due in BS-18, BS19, BS-20, and BS-21 are aggrieved by the impugned rules as through these rules vast unbridled powers are conferred upon the CSB and the department selection board (DSB) regarding promotions of the said gazetted officers of the government of Pakistan from BS-18 to BS-21 on the basis of a vague and ambiguous evaluation structure.”

The petition said that through the recent rules, the government “has also reduced the marks on the basis of the quantification of the Personal Evaluation Reports of the officers concerned from 70 marks to 40 marks and enhanced the evaluation marks by the CSB and DSB from 15 to 30”.

It said that “the rules confer even more unchecked discretion upon the CSB and DSB”.

The petition went on to say that “rules are not in accordance with the principle of due process of law, violative of the fundamental rights of the officers”.

IHC Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb issued notices to the respondent authorities and directed them to file a report and paradise comments within a period of one month.

Further hearing in this matter has been adjourned till March 5.

It may be mentioned that in 2014 the Establishment Division introduced the criteria that empowered the CSB to reject the promotion of a civil servant if he/she failed to secure at least three out of five marks for “integrity/general reputation/perception”.

The CSB denied promotions to scores of senior bureaucrats on the basis of this criterion by invoking the integrity-related clause.

These officers initially challenged the discretionary marks of the CSB before the superior courts and ultimately the ‘unfettered’ powers of the CSB had been set aside.

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